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The Children and Families Act 2014, which came into force on 22nd April 2014, brings about a number of fundamental changes to existing legislation adoption legislation.
The 2014 Children and Families Act 2014, brings about several changes to legislation concerning adoption and child law, one of which is an amendment to existing adoption law via section 3 of the Act by amending section 1(5) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which repeals the necessity for adoption agencies to:
'give due consideration to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background,' which the government believed as being ‘not child centred.’
John Haynes QC and Dr Peter Hayes, writing in the Family Law ‘s September 2014 issue, explain that in their view section 1(5) of the 2002 Act has been used to legitimise a race matching ideology - a view widely held and accepted by adoption professionals like social workers until recently. This meant that adoption panels matched prospective adopters that were of the same ethnic and religious background. The intention behind the change in the law is borne from the will to revert to the ideal of securing the welfare of the child and the fact that decisions made ought to match that.
Although this amendment is welcomed as it reflects the move towards a more inclusive society that is tolerant to different beliefs and perspectives, it does raise a question as to whether this new approach disregards a child’s heritage and ethnic makeup. Racial origin may not define who you will become, but it is does define who you are. Race matching may appear to be outdated and unfashionable in modern liberal-democratic society, but it did recognise and reflect the multi-racial society we live in.
In addition, biological parents, who are proud of their ethnic and religious background, may struggle to accept adoption in these circumstances and find it harder to live with the fact that their children will grow up in a household ethnically dissimilar to their own, with different beliefs. Indeed, it is debatable whether the welfare of children is served by ignoring their ethnic and religious origin, and one may argue that this has been sacrificed on the altar of the Government’s bid to fulfil adoption quotas.
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